Symptoms and Causes

Advertizing and politics are some of the most obvious examples of ‘idea bundling’, as I discussed in my last post.  But, these are not, by far, the only fields.  This trend can be seen everywhere around us.

Bundling ideas can be useful by helping us categorize our surroundings, yet it can also hinder us – especially when other people try to do the ‘bundling’ for us.  Sometimes it is intentional manipulation (advertizing, ‘spin’, propaganda), but often, the people doing the ‘bundling’ are not even aware they are doing it…..and these ‘bundles’ are often the hardest to ‘unpack’ into their components, since there is no ‘false note’ to detect!

One of the greatest dangers of this is that when a specific ‘solution’ is a part of a ‘bundle’, it is harder for us to recognize whether it is a ‘symptom fix’ or a ‘root cause solution’.  And mistaking symptoms with causes is so easy…and so unfortunatelly frequent in our society!

Perhaps it is a human characteristic, perhaps there is a lapse in the schooling we received in critical reasoning … but confusing symptoms for causes is just SO rampant!!!!  And so many of us do not even seem to recognize that this is even going on, much less see it as a problem.

The whole ‘banning cellphones while driving’ debate is a case in point: the cellphones are a symptom of distraction, the underlying cause is the apalling disrespect some drivers accord to the act of driving – considering driving an ‘automatic right’ instead of an earned privilege.  And, while bannig cellphones while driving may make us feel as if we are ‘protecting society’, and politicians may get a few extra photops, it does not fix the underlying problem of getting drivers to pay attention to driving….  What’s next:  banning the application of ‘mauve dreams’  shade of lipstick because statistics clearly showe that more people crash while applying that shade of lipstick during driving than any other?

Another example is the alarming attitude in our schools:  volunteers who wanted to help kids who were falling behind in math were turned away, on the grounds that being seen as singled out for extra help would stigmatize a child.  Oh no, the lack of math skills (for whatever reason) was not a problem at all.  No, the problem was being seen getting help!!!  The symptom (potential embarassment) is treated, not the undelying problem (lack of skills).  I would not have believed it if I had not seen it with my own eyes. 

It is part of the same absence of critical thinking that ‘protects’ children from being ‘stigmatized’ by having them repeat a grade when they have not learned material, and instead allows illiterate children to graduate from schools.  They will be completely unprepared to face the challenges in life, but they will not have had their feelings hurt along the way…..  We are teaching our kids that it is OK to be ignorant, but not OK to be seen working hard to improve… What was that about ‘learned helplessness’?

Perhaps it sounds like I’m picking on the educators (and they do make it so easy), but this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Just look around you – the examples aboud! 

We, ‘the Western society’, seem to be rapidly loosing the ability to distinguish between causes of problems – which need remedying, and the symptoms of problems – which can lead us to the causes, but would which it would be pointless and a waste of time and resources to address in isolation.

 …and don’t get me started on separating valid from silly idead which had been ‘bundled’ together!

5 Responses to “Symptoms and Causes”

  1. Mouhamad A. Naboulsi Says:

    Banning hand held phones is step one in saving lives, but let’s face it, connectivity gives us competitive edge. If we turn off our cell phones, we will be at a disadvantage by the next person who is still using it.

    What is need is not more legislation, enforcement or Disconnectyivity. What we need is managed middle ground that’s based on safety and Facts

    1- 43% of accidents occur when the phone rings in and drivers try to answer. (NO CONVERSTATION YET)
    2- 23% of accidents occur when a driver tries to dial a number, Similar to texting. (NO CONVERSATION YET)
    3- The remainder caused by multiple reasons including conversation.

    This data was confirmed more then once by studies in Japan and referenced by many U.S. scientists as well as NHTSA.

    This managed middle ground should create order in the vehicle and give priority to driving tasks over other activities, but still enable other activities while helping keep/or even assuring Eyes on the Road and Hands on the Wheel. Such engineering should be based on real world data

    We have developed, proved and globally patented a system that balances the entire driving experience with emphasis on safety, but still allowing drivers to use communication technologies while driving. Our system has the following key features:

    1- Hands are monitored to be on the steering wheel, this enables configuration to enable or disable devices when hands status is not compliant with safety.

    2- The driver controls all accessories, including cell phones from “thumb gesture” on the steering wheel. (Yes, texting is possible if the laws allow it)

    3- Incoming communications are silenced when Drivers are passing, merging, changing lanes, turn signal engaged, etc, (So as not to surprise the driver).

    4- Any information, whether from a caller ID or navigation direction is given verbally to the driver, so there’s no need to look at a screen.

    5- System is calibrated to driver’s skills and experience so a teen aged driver is given certain allowances and elderly drivers are provided more assistant.

    6- System is geographically aware based on Navigation data of curves, lights, stop signs and other legal boundaries and can warn driver’s to slow down or modify behavior when distracted

    7- The system can fits into a cell phone, and connects to the car network “CAN” physically or wirelessly and communicates with the steering thumb sensor in the same manner.

    8- The system also detects signs of DUI from the driver handling the steering wheel, heart, sweat, temp, gripping strength and steering corrections, and then reports the driver to police, activate the emergency lights and limit speed of the vehicle.

    We need to stay connected to stay competitive, but we need to do it safely. What we need is to educate our legislative bodies to require a device like ours on every vehicle. This will auatomatically enforce driving & calling rules without the need to have a policeman for every drivers.

    88% of people that see our demo say they’ll buy such a device while 87% think of it as the safest thing as compared to what’s out there. Please contact us on .
    Thank you: Mouhamad A. Naboulsi, president Applied Computer Technologies, Inc.

  2. xanthippa Says:

    OK, OK, this just sounds like blatant advertizing…..

    But, I love the way you twist the argument. Far from endorsing the technology, I am posting the comment because I just might want to talk about ‘positioning’ and ‘market spin’ in the future, and Mr. Naboulsi, you have done a brilliant job if it here.

  3. ‘First they silenced…’ « Xanthippa’s Chamberpot Says:

    […] all goes back to my rant on how often people do not recognize the difference between ’symptom’ on the one […]

  4. Mouhamad A. Naboulsi Says:

    I am sincere and believe in what I wrote. This is far from being advertizing and more of a grass root campaign to tell the world about my project.

    This is also far from being a profitable enterprize. I live in the Ghetto-My roof leaks from three places-I drive a10 years old minivan with no A/C and I have less then 20 dollars in the bank and the house that was mine is now owned by the bank and couple of other people.

    Just wanted you to know so you do not think that I am doing this for profit.

  5. Mouhamad A. Naboulsi Says:

    Thank you for saying I am brilliant. I wish it is true, otherwise I will be rich.

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